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June 3 Bargaining Session Update

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues, 
Our fifth bargaining session with the administration concluded late last night with some progress made, as well as a clear sense of the work that still needs to be done to create an Augsburg contract with Augsburg values.
We’ve been showing up, and the administration has noticed. They know our strength and they know that the majority of us support this union effort. That work we’ve done to make our voices heard had an impact last night. The administration agreed to our full preamble. This preamble is an important step in enshrining our values as Augsburg staff into a contract. It will serve as an ongoing statement that our contract is in service of mutual benefits for staff and the Augsburg community.
It is time for the administration and their lawyer to begin putting in the same amount of time, effort, and seriousness in the bargaining process that we are as staff members. It is disappointing when the administration shows up to bargaining sessions unprepared, appearing to reflect a disinterested work ethic that would not be tolerated in our own job performances. We see this in the attorney’s often repeated phrase: “We have nothing to present.” We have offered to meet the administration two days each week going forward so we can reach a conclusion and agreement on a first contract in a timely manner. We hope the administration will agree to these dates so we can move the process forward together with more dialogue.
The administration continues to decline providing substantive responses to our proposals creating wage equity, benefit improvements, and affordable healthcare, but we are laying the groundwork to achieve these important changes as the negotiations continue. We will only achieve these if we stay united.
Let us continue making our voices heard as a group. When we speak up and stick together, we win. 

Next bargaining session

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
This afternoon, our bargaining team will meet with the administration for the fifth session of bargaining. In the last session, we were given responses to our proposals from admin that were mostly “No” or “The employer reserves the right to change this policy at their sole discretion.” 
Our proposals have been on the table for nearly three months–is this their best response? The administration is paying themselves and their lawyer, but not our bargaining team, to be in negotiations. The least they can do is a little homework outside of class to present us with a substantive counter-proposal.
Federal law mandates that the administration show up to our bargaining sessions; but it’s our shared values at Augsburg University that mandate we go the extra mile to work together to improve our institution. This is why we voted for our union: we want a better Augsburg for all!
Bargaining is expected to last into the evening, so we will send an update tomorrow morning.

Have you signed the petition yet?
Add your name–nearly 50% of the staff have so far, plus hundreds of community supporters! We’re asking the administration to act in accordance with Augsburg values while at the bargaining table. Give us meaningful responses to our proposals, pay bargaining team members for their time, and, most importantly, discuss our economic proposals with us. 
RSVP to our next Town Hall on June 9th at 12 pm!
We will be discussing recent bargaining updates as well as other important campaign updates!
Click here to RSVP!
Join the Contract Action Team
The CAT meets every Tuesday at 6:30 pm. Click here to register via Zoom.
To request accommodations for the CAT meetings or Town Hall, please email us at augsburgstaffunion@gmail.com.

Highlights from last week’s union picnic

Dear Colleagues,
Last week’s union picnic in Murphy Square Park was a strong showing of solidarity and community! 
We enjoyed cookies and the spring weather as we talked about what lies ahead in bargaining. 
Some of our colleagues spoke to us as we gathered about how the contract proposals reflect our shared values of equity, progress, and our commitment to the mission of Augsburg. We heard how so far the administration has chosen to stand in the way of our attempt to collaborate with them. We know that collaboration is an Augsburg value, but does the administration?
We’re looking forward to our next bargaining session, scheduled for June 3rd.
See some highlights from our picnic below:

“We’re showing up for everybody here. We’re showing up for our students, for each other. We’re ready to do this.” Katie Lane, Assistant Director, CLASS Program
“We’re all part of the Augsburg community, and that’s why I support this union.” Chris Bogen, Program Associate, Institutional Advancement
Group photo of union members in the park.

Have you signed our petition yet?
Add your name–nearly 50% of the staff have so far, plus hundreds of community supporters! We’re asking the administration to act in accordance with Augsburg values while at the bargaining table. Give us meaningful responses to our proposals, pay bargaining team members for their time, and, most importantly, discuss our economic proposals with us. 
RSVP to our next Town Hall on June 9th at 12 pm!
We will be discussing recent bargaining updates as well as other important campaign updates!
Click here to RSVP!
Join the Contract Action Team
The CAT meets every Tuesday at 6:30 pm. Click here to register via Zoom.
To request accommodations for the CAT meetings or Town Hall, please email us at augsburgstaffunion@gmail.com.

We Bring Augsburg Values to Bargaining

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
We had our fourth bargaining session yesterday and learned a lot about how the administration views our union. Frankly, we’re tired of the administration’s us-versus-them mentality. We organized this union to improve Augsburg, to build an Augsburg that fully lives up to its values. Why would Dawn Miller, Katie Bishop, and their well-paid attorney refer to us as “the union’s people” throughout the bargaining session? We are Augsburg’s people. We’re the students’ people. We’re us, we’re Auggies, we’re the union.
Are these really Augsburg values?
Today’s bargaining session continued to demonstrate that the administration isn’t living up to our shared values. How?

  • Administration wants to maintain complete control over staff working conditions. All of their counters (responses) to our proposals are just to maintain the status quo in their favor. Check out what we mean here. We organized to protect ourselves from unilateral decisions that affect us. If we wanted to protect admin’s unchecked power to take away our retirement benefits, reduce our wages, and decide our healthcare without our input, then we would never have formed a union in the first place.
  • Administration refuses to pay the bargaining team. They seem to think an unpaid bargaining team is on a level playing field with themselves, a paid bargaining team. Our colleagues are taking time out of their workdays to work out a fair contract for all of us. It is typical for employers to pay members of the bargaining team. This isn’t an issue for other progressive employers in the Twin Cities, why is it an issue for admin? How they treat the bargaining team reflects how they see the whole staff union.
  • Administration doesn’t give us real proposals. They give us one word answers – “No.” We spent months working on our proposals, surveying the staff, having one on one conversations. They spend a few minutes telling us that almost none of it’s going to happen or giving us weak language that gives us no real agency. It is clear that the administration is not happy with staff unionizing–and they’re not eager to collaborate honestly on any of our proposals. But we’re not asking for wild changes. We’re asking for collaborative improvements and they consistently bring little to nothing to the table.
  • It has been 10 weeks and the administration still will not engage with us on wages and healthcare. We briefly discussed a healthcare selection committee, but we were told the status quo is fine as it is. That contradicts what we found in our survey, where 62% of staff respondents said improving healthcare plans was a high priority. 70% of respondents also said their wage increases have not kept up with the cost of healthcare. We found it offensive to hear that the administration was not interested in contract proposals that would lead to more staff input when it comes to selecting insurance plans.

This treatment of us, the staff union, is not in line with Augsburg values. As we’ve said before, we’re disappointed. This is a collaborative process, but it’s also one required by law. The administration has made it clear that they are only interested in doing the bare minimum to obey federal labor law. Auggies set higher standards for themselves. 
We take notes during each of our bargaining sessions. We invite you to read our notes, and see for yourself the number of ways the administration’s bargaining team tells us that we’re working against the university and not as part of it. 
The status quo or no
We have been negotiating for 10 weeks and now the administration finally responded to some of what was in our initial proposal, although they still explicitly told us they’re avoiding discussing economics. Their response, which you can read in full here, is lackluster at best. What it boils down to is the “status quo” or “no”. They responded to our proposals that sought to improve conditions by either reducing them to the way things are now or just outright rejecting them without explanation. 
Why does that matter if these policies are, as they say, in the employee handbook? Leaving items in the handbook and not embedded in our contract means they can change it at any point in the future, taking away any avenue for us to improve our work environments. 
What can we do?
The very best thing we can all do is continue to show our support for, and pride in, our union. Our collaborative work can absolutely result in positive changes for all of us and Augsburg as a whole. It’s up to us to remind administration that this union is what the staff wanted because this union is how we make a better Augsburg.
Have you signed the petition to Paul Pribbenow yet? It outlines our reasonable asks that have remained true since bargaining began: negotiate quickly, fairly, and help us build a better Augsburg.
Will you turn out to our picnic on Wednesday, May 19th? We’re gathering at noon in Murphy Square Park! We will provide cookies and soft drinks, we will share more updates on bargaining, and get a chance to talk about what the proposals mean for you.

Next Bargaining Session Today

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
Bargaining resumes today at 9 am and is expected to last until 5 pm. Our expectations for today are the same as last week:

  • Admin should be ready to respond to our counter proposals onArticle 15. They have had an extra week to review it.
  • We anticipate hearing their reasoning for gutting so much of Article 15 in their initial counter to us–“It’s the status quo” isn’t a good reason. A union contract protects what we like about the status quo and it changes what we don’t.
  • We hope to get a response and counter-proposal to our wage, healthcare, and time off proposals. We have waited more than two months for this response. Employers do not take this long to respond to those unless they have the explicit intention of delaying the bargaining process. We are ready and waiting to collaborate with Admin on these issues.
  • We expect some indication that the Admin team is working on their own proposals outside of bargaining hours. They admitted to us that they only do bargaining work during the bargaining session. That is the kind of job performance that we all know would not be tolerated in our own work, and it is a deliberate tactic employers use to delay the bargaining process. This process is a lot of work and it is typical for both teams to spend time on their own writing and responding to proposals. 

We want to make it very clear to the Augsburg community about what the Administration’s bargaining team is doing:

  • Delaying is union-busting
  • Not paying bargaining team members is union-busting 
  • Negotiating for the weakest possible contract is union-busting
  • The Augsburg leadership approves of these tactics–we have not seen or experienced any evidence to the contrary

These are deliberate tactics employers use to make the bargaining process as difficult as possible to their union employees. Not only is it incredibly disrespectful to staff, it also follows in the footsteps of corporate union-busters. 
Union-busting is not an Augsburg value. It’s sad how divisive the administration is being at a time when we’re trying to bring everyone together. 
The administration can change their course at any time and treat us with the respect we deserve. The bargaining team represents all of us. The proposals reflect all of our needs and aspirations for a better Augsburg.
We still set our expectations high for the administration today, because Augsburg values mean holding people accountable and bringing our best to the table. 
Our bargaining moves more quickly if we are all putting in a little work. We need you to help us (and yourself) by signing this petition that demands the administration bargain fairly and quickly. Sign here.

Next Bargaining Session is Today

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
At 2 pm today, the members of the bargaining team meet the administration for the next round of bargaining. This session is expected to go until 9 pm. 
We are going into this session expecting to hear the administration’s responses to several articles. First, their responses to Article 15. At the last bargaining session, the administration responded to our initial proposals in Article 15 by cutting out most of the language, saying those proposals already exist at Augsburg and there’s no need for them to be in a contract.
This is what they don’t understand about our union. One of the core reasons we organized a union was to protect the things we liked about working at Augsburg. We put those proposals in our draft because we want to keep them that way. By taking that language out, the administration is telling us they want to reserve the right to unilaterally change our working conditions. This is not the kind of democratic Augsburg we envision. 
We added that language we want to protect back into Article 15 and we expect their response to it today.
Second, the administration told us they will have responses to other proposals in our initial contract draft. Will they be responding to our wage and healthcare proposals? We hope the administration takes these issues as seriously as the staff takes them. They have had our wage and healthcare proposals for two months now. 
Third, we submitted a revised and more detailed proposal on internal hiring. We drafted this after hearing about how so many staff members feel there aren’t many opportunities for advancement at Augsburg. Over half of those who filled out our bargaining issues survey said that “Improving advancement and promotion opportunities” was a high priority issue for them. We are expecting a response to this proposal today.
We will send out an update on how the bargaining session goes tomorrow morning.

Demonstrating Our Majority

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
The campaign for an Augsburg contract with Augsburg values takes all of us! Here are some things we are asking one another to do to demonstrate our majority support:

  • Sign the petition. This petition, which is open to both staff and Augsburg community members, is requesting that the administration address our priority proposals regarding wages and healthcare.
  • Answer the question: what would these proposals mean for you?Our contract proposals represent a long-term effort by staff to help Augsburg University live up to its mission. These proposals start at home for us. What would it mean to have a wage that can support my family? What would it mean for me to not worry about covering my health needs? What would it mean for me to know I can retire securely?
  • Continue using your Zoom backgrounds and email signatures. By our count, half of the bargaining unit has been using Zoom backgrounds at work! In our virtual world, Zoom backgrounds and email signatures are the best way to let our colleagues know we have their backs and they have ours.
  • Join the Contract Action Team! We meet every Tuesday at 6:30 pm. Here is the link to RSVP.
  • Talk to your coworkers! Open communication is a crucial part of this campaign. We want to make sure everyone in the bargaining unit is aware of how negotiations are going. Contract negotiations are an open and evolving process.

Please let us know at augsburgstaffunion@gmail.com if you need any assistance in attending our Contract Action Team meetings.

A Day of Healing

Dear Colleagues,
We hope you are taking some much needed time to rest and process the recent events in the Twin Cities. The trial is a reminder of the ongoing fight for justice in our communities. There is so much work to be done but we know that when we organize together, struggle together, and fight together, we win.
Last Saturday, around half of the staff bargaining unit joined the bargaining meeting in solidarity to allow our colleagues to see what bargaining is like and to request that the administration quit stalling on responding to the proposals we gave them over a month ago. Knowing we had the platform, we invited representatives from the Augsburg Day Student Government (ADSG), to meet members of the administration face-to-face to amplify the message students have been saying for far too long: this university needs a day of healing. We are all part of the Augsburg community and our voices are stronger together. We are grateful that the administration has given today to us, to heal together. But we also want to make it clear to the administration that we are all Auggies. We will not tolerate them saying student organizing is “inappropriate” because it’s not occurring in the space that the administration approves of.
The fight for a contract that lives up to Augsburg’s values will take more work and it will take all of us. Take this day to care for yourselves, rest, and reaffirm your support for a better, more equitable Augsburg.

We Stood Together in Solidarity

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,
This morning at 10:00 am we began our third contract bargaining session. Members of the bargaining team and nearly 60 members of the Augsburg staff met with administration representatives Dawn Miller and Katie Bishop and their attorney, Meggen Lindsay. Staff members presented a statement expressing their disappointment with how the administration is attempting to dictate bargaining by not responding to our economic proposals and not paying the members of the bargaining team for their time spent bargaining.
Also in attendance were representatives of the Day Student Government. The ADSG student representatives, and the incoming ADSG president, reiterated the request they have already made to administrators. Their request is for a university-wide (students, faculty, staff, and administration) day off to grieve, heal, and process the trauma of the last week’s events, which are compounded by the ongoing stress of the Covid pandemic and violence against BIPOC communities. Many of us are student-focused staff, who see and hear these requests going unanswered by those in power. We therefore invited them to our bargaining space, to make this request again, and the students accepted this invitation.
The students and bargaining team were met with condescension and silence. Both their attorney and Katie Bishop told us students have no place at the bargaining table and they refused to talk to us until the students were gone. The administration accused the staff of manipulating students. The students were not there to negotiate on our behalf; we offered a space for students to voice their needs, with the hope that our position of equal power at the negotiation table would help amplify their request.
Their condescension was heard loud and clear, but it was their silence that spoke greater volumes. No one from the administration’s team acknowledged that about half of the entire bargaining unit had taken time out of their Saturday to support their fellow colleagues and the students. Staff showing up en masse to a bargaining meeting is a clear message to the administration that these are serious issues and that we are not going to tolerate delays any longer. They chose not to respond to our statement regarding their delays and their refusal to pay the members of the bargaining team, who are Augsburg staff.  
Today was not a waste, however, and it was clear that the message was received that our union members are invested in this process, and are paying attention to its progress. By the end of negotiations today, we came to a tentative agreement on some non-economic issues and the employer indicated that they will return to the table with more substantial counter-proposals on our initial proposal from five weeks ago.
Please see this document for our notes taken during bargaining.
We negotiate for all of our benefits. If you have questions or comments, please let us know!
How do we continue to show support going forward?
It’s important to continually demonstrate that our staff union desires meaningful, sustainable changes. Submit a photo of yourself and answer the question: what would the contract proposals mean for you? Click here to respond.
Use Zoom backgrounds and email signatures that proudly display your union support, and wear your union face mask. The more we project unity, optimism, and our desire to improve Augsburg for all, the fewer opportunities the administration has to dismiss our negotiations.
Sign the public petition asking the administration to quit delaying this process, respond to our proposals, and to pay bargaining team members for their time spent bargaining.
Attend a CAT meeting (Tuesdays at 6:30pm), and talk to your colleagues. Ask your colleagues about their reactions to what they saw in the Zoom bargaining session–do they feel frustrated, concerned, or motivated? Still have questions about what we’re doing? We are always open to being in touch to discuss this work.
We will follow up with you more regarding how the students are doing and what they are asking from the Augsburg community.